Industrial designer Christophe Guberan is pushing the boundaries of design
When you talk to Christophe, you soon realize that he doesn’t waste time, which you can also notice in his art and and products. Not content to wait for manufacturing tools and companies to meet his ideas, the industrial designer is part of a new generation of creatives who develop their own production processes. We sat down with Christophe to talk with him about his career, his passion for good products and much more.
Starting out studying architectural drawing, you later switched to industrial design. Please tell us a little bit about your career and why you choose that career path.
Christophe: To answer this question I have to go back into the past. I really wasn’t good at school. In Switzerland you can choose to do an apprenticeship instead of going to school. Thus, I started working in an architecture company to learn about drawing buildings.
During that time, I realized that it was nice to develop buildings. However, I had problems with the scale in architecture. I realized that developing objects that I can touch are my thing. Architecture can only be touched with feets and arms. Design touches even more – the whole body actually.
Also, I didn’t want to rely on an intermediary to realize my objects. In architecture you always need a master builder to implement your vision. But I wanted to develop my own production process and control how my object is made.
Is there anyone in this context whose approach has inspired you in particular?
Off the top of my head, I share the vision on the US-american designer and architect Charles Eames. He and his wife Ray Eames developed their own production process to get the design they wanted. In the end, they found a way to work the wood so that they could make a chair (the “Organic Chair”, ed.) out of one piece.
As Eames, I also want to be part of the production process and develop the aesthetics in a tense relationship with the product.
You said testing new materials and using them to rethink production processes are crucial parts in the work of your studio and your own practice as a designer. Can you talk a bit about that?
I am not testing new materials. I am just combining materials we already know. For example, I find a new way of using paper, how to fold paper. I use water and rethink the process of folding paper. If you will, I redefine the use of paper.
A development in 3D printing that I do not like is the extensive use of new materials. A lot of 3D printers use non-biodegradable materials like plastic. New technologies like 3D printing are a great thing, but in my opinion you really have to develop an idea, a vision for the future. What do we want to to with digital fabrication? Technology, research, innovation are all phrases that we like to use to seduce companies. But nobody’s asking what’s the purpose behind it. Is innovation just a marketing term in order to sell more?
Where do you see the biggest potential of digital production / 3d print technologies in the near future? How will these new technologies impact prevailing production processes?
I want to talk about right now because the impact is already here. Right now, 3D printing gives product designers a great advantage. It totally changed the way of designing a product because you can print your prototype and directly see how the product works.
But I don’t think that everything will be 3D printed in the future. In my opinion, every object that’s close to the human body – everyday objects like shoes – makes sense to be printed. The big advantages are that you have a very low material loss and that you can tailor made every piece.
According to you, designers should reclaim craft by creating their own production technologies. Is it necessary to have excessive technological background to repurpose types of production or applications, to create new essential products?
Innovation, evolution – people always want to push that. You don’t need technology to make interesting products. But if you want to make affordable and high quality products. Then, we have to look at what technology has to offer.
You will be speaking at the next Forward Session in Lausanne on December 11th. Can you give us a little teaser of what you’ll be talking about?
About everything I talked about in this interview. (laughs) Seriously, I will explain my vision by showing the audience my products. Also, the designer Sibylle Stoeckli is going to be there and talk about her exciting design. All in all, it will be a great evening and I am looking forward to it.
We’re also looking forward to meeting Christophe again at the Forward Session, hosted by Studio Banana, MINI and Forward. Come and join us on the evening of Tuesday, December 11th, at Studio Banana. You can find more info about the event and sign up here (free admission).